Oliver Cromwell museum petition sparks Cambridgeshire council debate

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Media captionCampaigners say the Cromwell Museum collection could be broken up for good

More than 3,700 people have signed a petition, forcing a council to examine its proposed closure of a museum.

Cambridgeshire County Council wants to close the Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon, which it said costs £30,000 a year to run, as part of its plans to save £149m over five years.

The petition to save it was set up by a campaign group and has succeeded in triggering a council debate.

The council said it was "exploring options of alternative management".

The council-owned museum faces closure by 2015 if an alternative owner is not found.

The Save Cromwell Museum Campaign, set up by the Friends of Cromwell Museum, said its closure would be "a significant loss, locally, regionally and nationally".

'Strength of feeling'

Bob Pugh, from the group, said: "We get visitors from all over the world and some of them... only come to Huntingdon, and Cambridgeshire, because the museum's here."

The petition to save it was set up using the county council's online scheme. Under its rules, petitions signed by 3,000 or more people qualify to be discussed at a meeting of the full council.

Mr Pugh will present the petition to the council later.

David Harty, the council's cabinet member for education and learning, said: "We will now use this interest from the community to debate the issue of the future of the museum... on 18 February.

"We continue to work with the Friends of Cromwell Museum to explore options of alternative management, and we hope the strength of feeling shown through this petition can be used to achieve this goal."

Cromwell was educated at the former grammar school building which has housed the museum since 1962.

His papers, boots and death mask are included in the collection.

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